A Lacombe-area recreation district previously under fire for questionable hiring practices also had a litany of other financial and personnel problems in 2013, according to a report released Monday by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office.
For example, according to the audit, St. Tammany Parish Recreation District No. 4 hired relatives of children enrolled in the district’s after-school program to watch those same children.
The audit, prepared by the Mandeville accounting firm Griffin and Co., found 13 problems with the district’s financial statements, two more than in the previous year.
In the case of the after-school program, not only were relatives of children in the program employed by the district, but expenses for the program were $15,000 more than it generated. The report suggested that district officials review the program’s “purpose and disbursements to ensure prudent use” of the money.
Recreation District No. 4 also hired a relative of an employee to work in its “art studio” program, which outspent its revenue by $8,000, according to the report. The auditors recommended a review of that program as well.
The audit said some computer equipment listed in the district’s inventory could not be found. A district official filed a police report with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office on June 17 alleging that a former employee had sold some computer equipment and kept the funds. The total could not be determined, and the investigation is ongoing, according to a Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
Overall, the district’s actual expenditures exceeded the budget by $84,000, the report says.
The audit also detailed numerous bookkeeping and policy shortcomings, including paying concessions employees out of cash collected at the stands, not having any written policies or procedures, not sending tax forms to vendors in a timely manner, paying some employees variously as salaried workers and contract employees, failing to create written job descriptions, failing to file an annual report in a timely manner, and allowing commercial and general liability insurance to lapse.
In each case, district management promised to adopt recommendations included in the report.
The district was in the news earlier this year when it came to light that former board President Jimmy Laurent was a co-owner of a controversial work-release company and that the district had employed two inmates from the work-release program. Parish President Pat Brister, who had appointed Laurent to the board, asked him to resign; when he refused, she fired him. Laurent responded by accusing Brister of removing him for political reasons.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.